Here’s an excerpt from my new book, Undoctored: Why Health Care Has Failed You and How You Can Become Smarter Than Your Doctor, available on Amazon as well as other retailers.
The unspoken secret is that healthcare providers prefer treatment over prevention, expensive over inexpensive, patent-protectable over non-patent-protectable, billable procedure over nonbillable procedure, BMW over Toyota Prius.
Spiraling healthcare costs are the expected result because greater revenues are built into the basic principles that drive the system. The endless year-over-year increase in your health insurance premiums should therefore come as no surprise because this system is designed to take more and more of your money.
Health care is a business, a big business (the biggest business of all in the United States), a business that seeks to continually grow its revenues and profits. With 1 in 10 Americans employed in the gargantuan healthcare industry, as much as 20 percent of workers in some metropolitan areas, health care also represents a huge wealth transfer from those not in health care to those in health care (many of them multinational corporations based outside the United States). It adds up to the largest wealth transfer in the history of mankind.
You can stop blaming the burgeoning price of the educational system or the skyrocketing costs of military campaigns worldwide for increasing burdens on consumers—it’s what is being passed off to us as health care.
The push to grow health care even bigger is all around us. Direct-to-consumer drug advertising is designed to get you to ask your doctor whether you should take a drug, even if it costs tens of thousands of dollars per year and comes with the risk of liver failure and suicide. There is a continual push to “medicalize” human life: Shyness is now “social anxiety disorder” to justify “treatment” with antidepressant medication; binging in the middle of the night is now “sleep-related eating disorder” to justify treatment with seizure medication and antidepressants; obesity, declared a disease by the FDA, justifies insurance payment for gastric bypass and lap-band. Don’t be surprised if, sometime soon, bad dreams, between-meal hunger, and excessive love of your cat are labeled “diseases” warranting treatment.
The spotlight shines on new drugs and medical technologies. Hospital ads boast about the newest robotic surgery and high-tech imaging procedures. It all seems wonderful—until you stop to realize that these are the technologies created to deal with the results of neglected health, the alchemy of converting neglect into revenue. Neglect the real causes of osteoporosis, for example, and you are going to require an expensive course of prescription drugs or a new hip prosthesis. Neglect the real causes of diabetes, and you are going to need diabetes drugs, insulin, cataract and retinal surgery, coronary bypass, an implantable defibrillator, and dialysis. Neglect the real causes of autoimmune conditions, and you are going to need oral drugs to suppress the immune response, injectable biological agents, biopsies, and organ transplants. Neglect the real causes of obesity, and you will need drugs for weight loss, drugs to treat high blood sugar and high blood pressure, a CPAP device for sleep apnea, gastric bypass or lap-band for weight loss, and knee and hip surgery and prostheses to deal with weight-bearing destruction of joints.
In other words, neglect the cause, profit from the treatment. It is the unspoken but defining mantra of modern health care. Health is not part of the equation.